Couples invariably spend months and months planning their big day, down to the smallest detail. But what of the honeymoon to follow? How you spend your first few days or weeks together is actually just as important as it is one of the bedrocks of your married life. Whether you are planning the honeymoon as a romantic surprise for your beloved, or brainstorming imaginative ideas together, you should start the way you mean to go on. This will be, after all, the experience of a lifetime.
I may be a little biased, but say with absolute passion and confidence that Africa holds the key to the most stunning, idyllic, and memorable honeymoons on earth. The continent, and its outlying islands, has a perfect option for every newly married couple, whether you are seeking adventure and excitement, luxury and relaxation, a buzzing city break, or an escape to a pristine wilderness. There are chateaux in vineyards, desert camps amidst sand dunes, exclusive island resorts with private beaches, and discrete safari lodges where the wildlife watching is second to none. The hardest part is deciding where to go! Here are a few of my personal favourites to provide you with a bit of inspiration for your planning.
Get close to nature with a safari honeymoon at Chiawa Camp, overlooking the Zambezi River in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. The founders, Dave and Jenny, are a happily married couple, as are managers Ashley and Tara, and they’ve thought of everything to indulge and pamper you at this very special time. Expect to be served a Champagne breakfast in the bush, bathe together in a roll top bath with stunning views, and take a romantic river cruise at sunset, just the two of you. The bed is king sized, and you’ll be awoken each morning by the smell of freshly ground coffee, served to you on your private verandah.
The endless white beaches and turquoise waters of Zanzibar tick all the boxes for an island getaway, so escape with your new spouse to the chic Xanadu Villas. Enjoy a stay in one of just seven villas, with romantic features such as rooftop plunge pools and terraces, perfect for star gazing. I’d recommend a guided tour of culturally rich Stone Town, and as Zanzibar is known as the ‘spice island’, perhaps also choose to tour a local spice farm. The lodge offers exclusive sunset dhow cruises across Chwaka Bay after exciting days exploring the island. You can fill your time snorkeling, kayaking, and diving, where you can expect to see turtle and butterfly fish, dolphin and coral and sponge. If you feel like staying on land, take a guided walk through the Jozani Forest, where you will see all varieties of flora and fauna including indigenous red colobus monkey and ancient mangrove trees.
It might well be that you don’t want to retreat during your honeymoon, but would rather throw yourselves into the heart of the action. How about a gourmet tour of South Africa? Cape Town is one of the most beautiful, and culturally rich cities in Africa, with magnificent mountains as its backdrop. There are Zulu and Boer War battle sites, hiking routes up Table Mountain, championship golf courses, and a 2,000-mile coastline with opportunities for whale and turtle watching, island hopping, and even cage diving with sharks! That’s an adrenaline kick like no other, and it’s an unconventional honeymoon experience neither of you will ever forget. If you then need something more relaxing to recover, you can take a luxury train journey in the antique railway carriages of Rovos Rail, the most spacious and elegant in the world, and conclude your honeymoon with a breathtaking stay (and plenty of fine wine) at Babylonstoren in the world famous Cape Winelands.
Laura Burdett-Munns is Managing Director at Africa Exclusive. Africa Exclusive has been creating the finest tailor-made safaris since 1990, specialising in luxurious accommodation in beautiful remote places.